SBD/March 27, 2014/Franchises

Sounders Supporters Group Could Boycott Game At Levi's Stadium Over Ticket Prices

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ECS likely would have accepted a 20% spike but felt the 112% jump was too much
More than 25,000 fans have bought tickets for the MLS Sounders-Earthquakes game August 2 that will inaugurate Levi’s Stadium, but a supporters group’s potential boycott of the match has become the main storyline heading into it. The Emerald City Supporters, the Sounders' largest supporters group, announced earlier this month that its members will not collectively travel to the game due to their thought that ticket prices are too high. This would mark the first time since the Sounders’ inception in ’09 that ECS would not attend a league away match in some capacity. Ticket prices for the game start at $53, which is higher than the typical MLS ticket and more than double the $25 ECS members paid on average last season to attend two matches at the Earthquakes’ Buck Shaw Stadium. ECS co-President Aaron Reed said that the group evaluates its decision to travel on a game-by-game basis and decided not to attend the game at Levi's Stadium after determining the ticket price was too steep. The Earthquakes and MLS declined to comment on the matter; the Sounders did not respond to a request for comment. The potential boycott is notable -- and has had legs on social media -- because supporter groups are traditionally among the key constituents of MLS clubs. Reed said that ECS, which would have brought about 250 of its approximately 3,000 members to the match, would have likely accepted up to a 20% increase on ticket prices to the game this year. However, the 112% increase was too much to justify. He also said that the boycott was not just in response to the Earthquakes game specifically but what the group saw as an increasing, league-wide trend. Reed: “We took this as our time to draw the line in the sand. ... I feel like there comes a time where you have one opportunity to say, ‘No,’ -- and we’d rather take that now than wait till it’s too late.”

CAN A RESOLUTION BE REACHED? Reed last week said that he does not foresee a resolution to the issue because ECS had been told that it was likely not possible to alter the prices for a number of reasons. However, ECS has been in contact with the Earthquakes, Sounders and MLS over the issue. Given that this dialogue is ongoing, Reed said that the possibility of a solution remains. Reed: “I’m not going to say the window has slammed shut.” He also said that it is possible some ECS members will choose to travel to the match despite the group’s official stance, but added that he did not foresee a lot of people doing so. Meanwhile, Reed indicated that the group is unhappy with ticket prices for the Sounders’ two matches this season at the Timbers’ Providence Park. He noted that plans are being made to attend the first game, but admitted the group is still mulling whether it will travel for the second game.
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